Friday, June 5, 2015

Moo for me

Ever since I was a child I have had a love affair with books.  I know I am not alone in this.  Can you remember the first books you fell in love with?  I can't quite, but I've been told that they were Chicken Little
a farm animal book, and that I tortured the adults in my life with requests to read and reread them until I had them memorized.  Then I made everyone listen to me as I "read" to them.  I guess what goes around, comes around and now my life is filled with a granddaughter who follows close at my side, begging, "Book!" "BOOK!" and carrying a couple books with her.  The three choices all have farm animals in them, and she patiently turns the pages until the cows show up.  Brown cows or black and white, photograph or cartooned, she begins mooing and looks expectantly at me as I have to  perform, again and again, my only really good animal impersonation, a deep rumbling moo that leaves my glasses vibrating until my nose tickles and her hand rests on my chest where the vibration makes her giggle.
 Children can be exhausting, but also inspiring, and as I have less time and energy, I also find my imagination dredging up new story ideas and material for new details in old stories.  So finally I am at the end of a long, busy school year that saw some writing, but no finishing of novels, and I am often sitting with the child on my knee, but I am suddenly sure where the stories are going and I'm having a great time getting there.
 I look back to old pictures of myself as a child and a teen and I remember hearing even then that I was an old soul, an adult in a child's body, someone who did not fit in with her peers much.  But suddenly I am where I must have always been meant to be.  I do fit in this role, I am a grandma and have always been a caretaker and a storyteller.

Welcome to the summer where everything feels magic, because she has no memory of ever seeing a Cherry tree turn pink, it was that way when she was born - but the blooms quickly blew away.  This ear she sees it and every new sprout and bloom is a fragile but somewhat terrifying thing that must be greeted with delight and awe, and touched with a hesitant single finger, ready to pull back quickly if it hurts or pop into her mouth and savor it, if it is a new, yummy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Changes in publishing and letting go while writing

 I have been living with Duffy Barkley in my head since my own sons were children playing on the beach and in the redwood forest with me, and I would tell them stories, based in part upon the places we found ourselves, so the world Duffy finds himself in, shares many details with the Redwood Coast where I raised my sons, and the Northwest Corner of Wyoming where my grandfather, my mom, and I all grew up.  But it also has a lot of details from out lives, blended with real and imaginary things from the books, movies and news of out time.  In short, when my Mom read my fiction, and told me that she could find me on every page, I was only surprised until I thought about it.

I realize there are only so many plots in the world, and it is how we take in the world around us, take it apart, mix it up and give it our own special twist that makes each storyteller still have something only we can share because only we have experienced our unique life.

So in Duffy's world, you can see the fact that I work with handicapped children and the fact that I love being out in nature far more than being in a city, and that I believe there is strength and joy in diversity.  The times have changed since I started telling these stories.   Even the way I write them and share them has evolved. My first manuscript was written on a typewriter, then when I got a computer, scanned page by page into it. Then I had to go through and change everything the scanner had misread, like g's turned into s, or worse.

Then I edited once on screen and printed it out and read it out loud to my husband and both sons, who were in Jr. high by then but went on long car trips with us when they were a captive audience.
Duffy's "first printing" and the "books" I wrote in grade school
While I read, I penned in changes and additions and corrections and then had to fix it on my computer, which by the way was still not online, then print out a copy and take it to the office supply store and have 4 copies printed (which cost over $100 dollars) and then mailed those around to editors and agents, paying postage and waiting months each time.
 When things finally started to change and books could be attached as a pdf file and sent with an email, it was a great relief for my dwindling savings and when I discovered createspace and print-on-demand I was thrilled and terrified.  Could publishing this way ever make sense?  Anyway, I could rough out a cover and get a proof copy from them and see my story as an actual book, for about $7, way less than the stack of loos photocopied pages.
The first proof copy

Even since I did print that novel in 2010, things keep changing, giving both authors and readers more options as time moves quickly in the book world now.  Kindle and Nook readers seemed incredible with their replica of the printed page at first, and now have kept evolving to come in color and interactive, have kept changing what can be done.  I'm slowly evolving and learning some of the new tricks like actually getting my hand drawn map into pic monkey and adding color, but there is so much more to learn, and the skills of other artists and authors and editors keep it exciting.

The most exciting thing of all to me though, is that once my books started finding readers, I had to realize they were not just mine anymore.  I might have given them to the world, but each reader adds their own interpretation, and takes away different things.  If I write that someone is in a house and I'm seeing a cabin, I can't always know how each reader will visualize the house unless I have been really specific, do they see a plank house, a trailer, an apartment?  I don't control Duffy and friends anymore, now they have slipped into the world as surely as my sons have done.

Princess SeaBee and Boo

Friday, March 6, 2015

Talking to book clubs about my book

I like to think of myself as a writer. Ever since I was a child that is one of the happier labels I have applied to myself.  When I was a child, a preschooler, I was a talker.  My Dad said I had been "vaccinated with a record needle and never stopped talking since."  Yet, as I started school, and learned that the other kids didn't like my non stop talking, and the fact that as an only child until just before I started school had created a child with no idea how to play well with others. I got slapped down hard, and rejected many times and it wasn't until the end of high school that I started to make friends and realize that I could both talk and listen.

So in school my best friends were the characters in books, and I have always considered myself an introvert.  It goes well with being the person who observes and records instead of interacting.  I curled up with my notebook, or hunched over a desk, and rarely made eye contact or had to speak.

Oddly enough though, when my brother was born with Down's syndrome and I learned to work with him, I also learned to be a teacher, and to work in front of large groups of children.  But that was separate.  I could talk to a class, and I could write - but I was too introverted to talk about my books out loud, so on-line I talked, in person I listened.  But Marketing books means you have to believe in them, AND you have to be their loudest, most vocal word of mouth advocate.  If I believed someone would love my story, nothing would happen until I would open my mouth and tell them why they would love my book.

Double Time On The Oregon Trail
So I wrote Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog, and very few people read it, even though I loved it, and the ones who did read it were positive.  Then I wrote Double Time on the Oregon Trail, and I started talking about it to 5th grade students who were studying the Oregon Trail, and then to a 5th grade teacher, who passed it to a School District Director of Curriculum who authorized the Instructional Media Center to order a class set of 38 copies. Then another 5th grade teacher convinced her book club to read it and asked me to come to their meeting and talk about it.  I was scared, but brought my handwritten draft, and some research, and some old storied I wrote in 5th grade myself and talked, and they listened and asked questions and it was fun.
 This year I am in a book club myself, and we read The Invention of Wings and ate dinner at one members house, and then read The Orphan Train and ate dinner at another members house, and it was my turn to be hostess, and I never invite people into my old house, decorated in Early American Yard Sale.  But I'm a good cook, so I said I can do it, and we chose my first book, Duffy Barkley and I cooked and they came over.
My old, chilly, very Green living room
 But what did I learn?  I learned you can't point out where the glasses and the garbage can are, and serve the food, and sit down and present about how you wrote a book, or ask the questions you want your readers to answer about what worked and where they loved, or hated my book.  Going into classes as an author presenter has been fun and satisfying.  Presenting in someone else's home as an author at their book club, I was focused and had planned ahead what to tell them and which questions to ask. In my home I kept wandering out of the conversation, and still missed a lot of what they said about my book
Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog
 So, when you want to market your book to book clubs, it is a good idea.  You do get a group of people willing to spend time and money on your book, but if you find yourself thinking about hosting the book club, find a partner, and focus for that evening, on being a speaker, speaking passionately about a book you really believe in.

 Amazon's Dixie Dawn Miller Goode Page - You can view it at:
Book Genre:  Fantasy/Young Adult/children's picture books

Sunday, February 15, 2015

20th Annual South Coast Writer's Conference - Gold Beach, Oregon

It was a four day, Valentine's Day weekend, with a no student Friday the 13th followed by President's Day.  It could have been a perfect weekend to spend with my husband of 31 years, but we both had plans, 1,000 miles apart.  While he gathered his Choir students and flew to Spokane for the all Northwest Music Festival, I was headed only an hour from home, to the 20th annual South Coast Writer's Conference.  With a few miles of extra driving just to take advantage of the incredibly warm weather and gorgeous beaches between my home and 50 miles north of Gold Beach near the Bandon Cheese and Ice Cream at Facerock Creamery
 and Old Town Bandon and the best divinity and fudge ever at the Big Wheel 

Lighthouse from the Art friendly fishing Docks at Bandon

finding a valentine message on the beach

at face rock beach

 Prehistoric Gardens between Gold Beach and Bandon

 One of my favorite places is an actual wave crashing beach inside this cave
 The seaside hot tubs at my motel were dark and steamy and only me by the time the keynote address finished and I made it back.  What an indulgence.

 The view from my room, they have a lot better views in the more expensive cabins but I knew I'd mostly be out of the room, and this was only $49.00
 Here is the High School track and football field where the conference was held.  For lunch I just ambled down to walk the track.

 Book sales and conversations were plentiful after the workshops Saturday evening.

 and then I escaped just in time to catch the sunset off the jetty

 Yes th conference is great and a wonderful place to learn from other people in the book world, and the workshops I took, flu of them for an hour and a half each, were all interesting and helpful, and the contacts I've made will be good to follow up on, but this conference is over until next year around Valentine's Day.  It is inexpensive, fun, professional and worthwhile if you ever get a chance to participate

here is the post from my other blog about how I learned to overcome writer's block

Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog's Day

 Mostly, I want to say that I can't believe it is already one full month into 2015 and once again one of those almost forgotten holidays that still means a lot to me.  Here we have not even had winter yet.  My April flowers are blooming and there has not been one morning that I had to scrape the frost on my car window.  The grass is green and the weather ranges from high forties to mid seventies.  While I enjoy that, it makes the idea of next Autumn a bit worrisome and makes it feel doubly strange to bewitching Happy Groundhog's Day to anyone.
 But Groundhog's Day has too much meaning in my life for me to ever forget it.  My great Grandmother was born on Feb. 2, 1875 and my Nephew was born on Fev. 2, 1972 and I loved them both intensely and sobbed broken heartedly when they died, Little Grandma at 98 and Cody, far too young.  So there is a shadow on this day every year now, but also the joy of having loved so well.
 Here is the weather we have been having in one picture.

 and the skies and flowers are so, very spring-like already

 But this last weekend I did get to get on the road with a bus full of Brookings Harbor Music Students and go up near Portland, Oregon for the International Competitive Collegiate A cappella, West quarterfinal.  It was a lot of bus time but on beautiful roads and a lot of concert time, but so talented and varied that we had a great time.

 I have also just finished a nearly 3 month, long term Substitute teaching job with really wonderful students and a chance to be creative with paint and writing and kids.  My favorite kind of way to spend time.
and even though I haven't finished a new book recently, I have been back at the typing and dreaming and there has been progress on Duffy's Third trip to Uhrlin.  He still has a lot to do but this time he isn't as young or as alone.

So there you have it.  My life has been fun and creative and semi-productive.  I hope yours has as well.  Welcome to February.  And to Cody, and Little Grandma, you are remembered.